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Development Account Projects

Strengthening national capacities to design and implement rights-based policies and programmes that address care of dependent populations and women’s economic empowerment in urban areas

Background:

Development in Latin America is characterized by structural heterogeneity, diverse forms of inequality (economic, social and gender inequality), high urbanization and the process of demographic transition. This particular combination of a growing and ageing urban population, in a region where, culturally, the majority of the care work is unpaid and undertaken by women, poses a particular challenge for public policies that address access by dependent populations to quality care services. With a view to strengthening national and local capacities to respond to these challenges, this project aims at producing regional evidence on the benefits of investing in policies and programmes that address care of dependent populations and women’s economic empowerment as part of urban development.

In the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, entitled “The future we want”, Governments recognized that informal unpaid work, performed mostly by women, contributes substantially to human well-being and sustainable development. Moreover, Governments committed themselves to promote the role of women as drivers of sustainable development, noting that this potential has not yet been fully recognized owing to persistent social, economic and political inequalities.

There is evidence that investments in social care infrastructure could make a decisive impact on more equitable development. Recent simulation studies in South Africa and the United States of America, undertaken by the Levy Economics Institute, showed that investment in social care delivery, by shifting parts of unpaid care work to paid work, generates more than twice the number of jobs compared to investment in infrastructure owing to the higher labour intensity of care work. There is also evidence that investment in care infrastructure can produce substantial gains in gender equity by, on the one hand, reducing the burden of unpaid care activities by women and, on the other, expanding income-earning opportunities for women who tend to be employed in these kinds of services.

This project will focus on six cities in six Latin American countries, which will be selected on the basis of a conceptual framework that takes into account the size of the city and the type of public care intervention. With a view to providing support to countries in identifying new sustainable development objectives as part of the post-2015 development agenda, the project will build national and local capacities, and provide new evidence concerning the benefits of investing in policies and programmes that address the care of dependent populations and women’s economic empowerment as part of urban development. Furthermore, the project will strengthen the capacity of “mechanisms for the advancement of women” (Beijing Declaration) to articulate their views with their counterparts in other ministries in order to mainstream gender into decisions and policies regarding the provision of care services for dependent populations (children, the elderly and the disabled).

The project will be executed by the Division for Gender Affairs of ECLAC, in collaboration with the Division for Sustainable Development and Human Settlements. Collaboration will also be sought from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and UN-Habitat, with a view to integrating their experience and technical capacities in this area.

Objective:

To support Governments in the design and implementation of rights-based policies and programmes that address the care of dependent populations (children, the elderly and the disabled) and women’s economic empowerment, in urban areas

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased awareness and knowledge of policymakers and other stakeholders in select target cities in Latin America of the importance of rights-based policies that address care of dependent populations and women’s economic empowerment
  • Increased capacity of technical staff and decision makers in selected countries to design and implement rights-based policies and programmes aimed at the care of dependent populations and the attainment of women’s economic autonomy in urban areas

Implementation status:

Summary of the progress report for 2014


The following activities have taken place/ are ongoing:

  • Montevideo (Uruguay), Mexico City (Mexico), the Municipality of Santiago (Chile), and a city in Ecuador (to be determined) have confirmed their participation in the project as target cities;
  • The project has also been presented to the government of Brazil,
  • An agreement has been prepared, which provides the framework for the collaboration between ECLAC and the Municipal government of Montevideo, to be signed in January 2015. A similar agreement already exists with the Municipality of Santiago;
  • In each of the municipalities, activities took place with the objective of increasing the awareness of policy-makers and technical staff on the links between urban development, women's economic autonomy and care policies;
  • Within ECLAC synergies have been sought with the Statistics Division and the Division for Sustainable Development and Human Settlements. The Division for Gender Affairs is also actively participating in ECLAC's working group "City of the XXI Century in Latin America and the Caribbean".